SOLUTION: PSY A01 San Diego State University Interoffice Psychology Memorandum

Directions
This assignment is designed to encourage you to reflect on the visual design, layout, readability,
and organization of a document. It’s also designed to help you think about the rhetorical
situation: how documents respond to the needs and goals of both writers and readers in
specific contexts.
1. Find a syllabus online (preferably one that seems to be hard to use: too long, not well
organized, not well designed, etc.).
2. Analyze how/whether it meets the needs and goals of readers (students). Also reflect on
the goals of the writer (professor) in the syllabus as you perceive them. Some topics to
consider: design principles, page design, typography, white space,
brevity/clutter/concision, clarity/simplicity, scannability, headings/hierarchy (use
Styles), flow/coherence, genre expectations (how should a syllabus look? What are the
major sections? What do readers want/need/expect?). We will have course lectures and
readings on many of these topics.
3. Redesign the syllabus as a one-page (single sided) fact sheet that includes the crucial
information that readers (students) need and can find at a glance. To do this, you’ll need
to determine the most important information to convey to readers in a way that
maintains a high level of readability and scannability. You’ll redesign the layout and
rewrite some of the language in the syllabus. Consider a range of readers and a range of
contexts (including online readers viewing the syllabus on their phones as well as
readers who are taking online classes during the pandemic). Your goal is to make the
syllabus more readable, scannable, and accessible to its audience in a highly condensed
(single page) format.
Deliverables
1. The original syllabus (pdf or docx file)
2. A 2-page written memo that rhetorically analyzes the syllabus (see the lectures on
memos and rhetorical analysis). You should focus your analysis on what it does well and
what it could improve on, in both layout/design and written language.
3. A revised syllabus that takes the form of a 1-page fact sheet (use MS Word to revise it)
4. A 1-page completion memo that explains how your revisions address the issues you
found in your analysis.
Guidelines



What do you want from a syllabus? What do you expect? How do you use a syllabus?
Use these questions to help you analyze it and revise it.
The original syllabus that you analyze and redesign can come from any department or
university but should be written in the English language.
Because you won’t be sharing your syllabus revisions outside of class, you won’t need to
worry about citing the professor who wrote the syllabus or getting their permission to
Page 1 of 2









make changes. Assume that you are working for the professor and have been charged
with creating a one-page fact sheet version.
Your analysis and redesign should focus on both writing and layout. That is, you should
think about how accessible, readable, and scannable the sentences are as well as how
well the document is designed (layout, headings, typeface, etc.). In other words, revise
the language, organization, structure, and design.
Put the needs of students like yourself front and center. How should a syllabus be
designed in order to make it highly usable (scannable, readable) for students?
If something is missing from the syllabus that you believe is crucial, you should add it
and then, in your completion memo explain what you added and why. For example,
every syllabus needs an “ADA statement.” If the statement is missing or overly
bureaucratic (boilerplate language) in the original, then you should fix that in your
revisions.
You might find inspiration in your revisions from infographic syllabi. Just keep in mind
that some of the fancier design elements of an infographic syllabus are hard to duplicate
in MS Word and may be less accessible for some students (e.g. blind students who use
assistive technology to read text out loud).
Optional: Your one-page redesigned syllabus may use alternative layouts (landscape
orientation) and sizes (8.5×14), so long as it can be printed using a standard (dorm)
printer.
Your redesign can also use a grid (e.g. two columns) in order to organize the
information.
Imagine that your one-page version of the syllabus will be printed out by students and
taped above their desks to provide helpful reminders about a course’s requirements at a
glance.
Assume that your one-page fact sheet will be a well-designed supplement and not a
replacement for the original syllabus.
Don’t try to squeeze everything from the original syllabus into your one-page redesign.
You’ll have to make some difficult choices about what to include and what to leave out.
Remember: Your fact-sheet is like a collection of the most important reminders that
students need to know on a daily basis as they juggle multiple courses and assignments.
Page 2 of 2
Peer review form for Document Makeover
assignment
ENGL 312: Business Writing
Dr. Sean Zdenek
For reviewer to fill out:
* Download two copies of this form (File > Download > Microsoft Word)
* Use a different form for each student you’re assigned.
* Complete 2 reviews (one for each student).
* Return each completed review to the student inside Canvas.
Reviewer’s name: ________SS_____________
Author’s name: ___________XS_______________
Goal for reviewers: To provide the most helpful written feedback you can on your classmate’s Document
Makeover assignment. Give the feedback that you would like to receive on your Document Makeover drafts.
Grading criteria: Keep in mind that the professor will be asking the same questions below when evaluating your
final drafts. Use these questions to help you focus your revisions on what’s important.
1.
Scannability test: Before you read the four documents carefully, I’d like you to skim them and evaluate
them for scannability. Look at headings, topic sentences, bulleted lists. Read the first paragraph of each
memo but skim the rest on the first pass. Browse the one-page fact sheet syllabus quickly. How scannable
are the documents? What suggestions do you have?
The two memos’ scannability could be improved. For both documents, there are no headings or
bulleted lists to break up the blocks of texts. On the other hand, the syllabus has several aspects to
improve scannabilty such us a numbered list under “Topics” and bolded headings for each section of the
fact sheet.
My suggestions:
• Break up the memos in some form (add bulleted list, numbered list, bolded topic
sentences)
• Use a template for your memos (Word has several)
• Decrease word count in syllabus sections
2.
Writing quality and organization: Now read the memos carefully. Assess the quality of the writing in each
memo.
a. Is the writing correct and appropriately formal in tone? Is the writing clear, concise, and accessible
(recall our discussion of Plain Language)? Point out errors or other examples of writing that you
think need to be revised.
Tone: The tone of the memos are format, which is correct in an academic setting. Additionally, I
would describe them as direct and explanatory, as the writing is straight to the point and is clear
about the reasoning for changing aspects of the syllabus.
Examples of writing that can be revised
Page 1 of 3

b.
c.
3.
Use of “You” in first sentence – in many formal pieces it may be beneficial to exclude
addressing the audience as “You”
o Instead, the sentence can end after “shortcomings.”
• Describing the page layout as “good” – maybe find a more powerful/expressive word to
describe the layout format
Is the analysis memo insightful? Point out claims that seem interesting to you as well as any claims
that you think are too obvious and can be deleted.
I think the analysis memo is insightful. I thought the mention of hierarchy is very interesting,
because that is an aspect of a syllabus I didn’t think about, but can have a great influence in
readability. Additionally, I like that the memo analysis doesn’t just comment on information the
original syllabus has, but also what it is missing. In my opinion, I didn’t think any claims were to
obvious.
Are the memos well organized, with headings, short paragraphs (chunking), and clear topic
sentences? Give suggestions for improving the structure.
The memo does not have headings, short paragraphs, or clear topic sentences.
One suggestion I would have is to break up the larger paragraphs into bullet points. The analysis
memo seems to have three paragraphs with topics focused on an evaluation of the original syllabus,
mentioning of several shortcomings, and additional discussion of shortcomings. Therefore, for
example, Sun could have the heading of “Shortcomings” and then a bulleted list of the information
below.
Layout/Design: Apply design thinking to the memos and the one-page syllabus:
a. Do the two memos conform to the required layout (two parts [Header and Body], block format
paragraphs, direct organization style, headings in the document, topic sentences at the beginning of
each new paragraph). Explain.
The 2-page memo has a paragraph labeled “Poorly designed syllabus” above the memo, which is
confusing. However, there is a header and body. The 1-page syllabus also has a header and body.
Both memos lack headings and organizational style. This can be seen by the absence of bold or any
other contrast tools.
b.
Does the redesigned fact-sheet syllabus apply the design lessons in the course: Contrast, Repetition,
Alignment, Proximity, and (optional) Grid-based design? Explain.
The redesign syllabus applies the design lessons of:
• Alignment – all the section headers are aligned on the same margin
• Proximity – each of the sections of information is close to the relevant header
• Contrast – section headers are bolded
4.
Directions: How well do the Document Makeover drafts follow the professor’s directions? What
suggestions do you have for your classmate?
I believe while the content of the Document Makeover assignment is present, the student can take
several steps to better follow the professor’s directions. Most of the improvements would be format
related, however the topics and issues discussed are great.
5.
Best thing(s): What do you like best about the author’s Document Makeover documents? Where do you
think the author should focus her or his energy during revisions?
Page 2 of 3
I like that the author’s documents show that thought and time was put into each document. For revisions,
I think the author should focus his or her energy on revising the memos to be more easily readable.
Page 3 of 3
Peer review form for Document Makeover
assignment
ENGL 312: Business Writing
Dr. Sean Zdenek
For reviewer to fill out:
* Download two copies of this form (File > Download > Microsoft Word)
* Use a different form for each student you’re assigned.
* Complete 2 reviews (one for each student).
* Return each completed review to the student inside Canvas.
Reviewer’s name: Taylor
Author’s name: xs
Goal for reviewers: To provide the most helpful written feedback you can on your classmate’s Document
Makeover assignment. Give the feedback that you would like to receive on your Document Makeover drafts.
Grading criteria: Keep in mind that the professor will be asking the same questions below when evaluating your
final drafts. Use these questions to help you focus your revisions on what’s important.
1.
Scannability test: Before you read the four documents carefully, I’d like you to skim them and evaluate
them for scannability. Look at headings, topic sentences, bulleted lists. Read the first paragraph of each
memo but skim the rest on the first pass. Browse the one-page fact sheet syllabus quickly. How scannable
are the documents? What suggestions do you have?
The documents are not super scannable. They do not have headings or bulleted lists. I would suggest separating
paragraphs in the memos with headings that explain what the subject of that paragraph is going to be.
2.
Writing quality and organization: Now read the memos carefully. Assess the quality of the writing in each
memo.
a. Is the writing correct and appropriately formal in tone? Is the writing clear, concise, and accessible
(recall our discussion of Plain Language)? Point out errors or other examples of writing that you
think need to be revised.
The quality of writing is fine but some sentences seem a little short and repetitive. The tone is informative and
formal. I think the documents include too many transition sentences with words such as “additionally”,
“furthermore”, “for instance”, “also”, and this is making it seem like a long list but in paragraph form.
b.
Is the analysis memo insightful? Point out claims that seem interesting to you as well as any claims
that you think are too obvious and can be deleted.
I think the analysis memo is not specific enough. It should include more clear examples of what is wrong and why it
is wrong, instead of just stating very brief, unclear arguments.
c.
Are the memos well organized, with headings, short paragraphs (chunking), and clear topic
sentences? Give suggestions for improving the structure.
The memos are organized with topic sentences and clear paragraphs. However, the paragraphs are chunky and
should maybe be made shorter and include headings.
Page 1 of 2
3.
Layout/Design: Apply design thinking to the memos and the one-page syllabus:
a. Do the two memos conform to the required layout (two parts [Header and Body], block format
paragraphs, direct organization style, headings in the document, topic sentences at the beginning of
each new paragraph). Explain.
The two memos do conform to the required layout with a header and a body. They are not in block format because
they are indented instead of left aligned. There are no headings but there are topic sentences.
b.
Does the redesigned fact-sheet syllabus apply the design lessons in the course: Contrast, Repetition,
Alignment, Proximity, and (optional) Grid-based design? Explain.
The redesigned syllabus uses contrast with bold and regular font, repetition with headings starting on the left in
bold and repeating down the sheet, left alignment, and proximity. The policies are all kept together and the
instructor’s information is all kept together.
4.
Directions: How well do the Document Makeover drafts follow the professor’s directions? What
suggestions do you have for your classmate?
The drafts follow the professor’s directions well for the most part. I would suggest using more headings and titles
within the document to clearly separate paragraphs and to add more descriptive examples of what the original
syllabus did wrong.
5.
Best thing(s): What do you like best about the author’s Document Makeover documents? Where do you
think the author should focus her or his energy during revisions?
I like best about the author’s documents how they included what they liked about the syllabus and what was done
well. I think the author should focus their energy on creating more focused paragraphs that are not chunky.
Page 2 of 2
Optional: Use a memo template for your Doc
Makeover memos
If you use a template, make sure it
reflects the serious and formal
nature of the memo genre.
M
In Word: File > New > Search for
online templates
16
Use direct style for
the Document
Makeover memos
Memorandum
DATE:
March 18, 2013
TO:
Department Managers
FROM: Safiyya Dev, Store Manager
SUBJECT: Customer Service Excellence Nominations
Please submit your nominations for the quarterly Customer Service
Direct and concise opening
Excellence Award by April 8. Help us identify great employees!
stotes the purpose of the
meme
Do you have an employee whom you feel fortunate to have in your
department? Does this employee show a positive and professional attitude
when helping customers? Do you get frequent comments about this person’s
friendliness and helpfulness? Now, you have an opportunity to give this
employee the recognition he or she deserves!
According to nominating criteria, nominees must…
Body paragraphs provide
criteria that will enable the
demonstrate excellent customer service consistent with Variety Cran department managers to
Supplies policies;
follow through on the
have worked at Variety Craft Supplies for at least six months
request
• work 20 or more hours per week:
not have received the Customer Service Excellence Award within the
have a record clear of oral and written warnings for the last six
month, and
have no work absonces within the last six months.
The winner of the award will receive a framed certificate and a $100 check.
A nominating form is attached. Please complete and return it to me by Conclusion provides action
Monday, April 8. Thank you for your help in identifying and rewarding information, deadline and
excellent customer service representatives.
courteous close
Purpose stated up front
15
Memorandum
Use block format
for your memos
“The text of memos typically uses block
format, with single-spaced lines, an
extra space between paragraphs, and
no indentions for new paragraphs.
However, if a report using memo format
stretches to a few pages in length,
double spacing may be used to improve
its readability.”
(Source: Writing Commons)
DATE February 25, 2013
TO
Al employees
FROM
Kirk James, Call Center Supervisor
SUBIECT Change in Operating Hours
Our call center has been experimenting with a hall day Friday work schedule over the
last year, and we’ve recently conducted an evaluation to determine how well the
program is working
When a client calls to order the diabetic supplies on Friday afternoon, our messaging
system directs them to complete their order on our company website. While many
customers are willing and able to do this, many do not have internet access (hence the
reason for their call in the first place). Their only other options to wait until Monday to
place the order, and its customer is already low on supplies, this may be unterable
Customers who are calling with questions or to resolve issues with an order must also
wat for Monday
We have received positive comments, especially from our West Coast customers, about
the extended hours we are open in the evening We have determined that to continue
to offer top notch customer service, we must also reinstitute Friday afternoon hours.
However, that does not mean that we cannot continue to offer employees some
scheduling perks. In fact, the addition of later hours Monday through Thursday provides
us with more leeway in scheduling employees
We will have a staff meeting on Monday, March 4. at 8:00 am to discuss new
scheduling procedures. To the extent possible, we wish to accommodate employees
preferences in scheduling so it is important to attend this meeting to have your voice
heard
11
XXX Agency
SCHEDULE FOR TIMESHEETS AND PAY DAYS
Dole
Memos prioritize document
design to increase usability.
FROM
Because memos are longer forms of written
communication, they need to be designed to be
scanned quickly by readers.
Purpose stated up front
Headings
White space
Ample margins
Bold (used strategically)
Short paragraphs
Topic sentences at head of each new
paragraph
Intro, middle, conclusion structure
Bulleted and/or numbered lists
Action items or recommendations in
conclusion
MEMO
10: ALL STAFF AND SUPERVISORS
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
TIMESHEETS AND PAY DAYS
Working for XXX sa privilege, but getting paid our reward lom
committed to making sure that all staff are paid for the hours they are
entitled to and on time. In order to make sure that there are no problems
with your paycheque. I am providing you with some important
Information, plus a chart that tells you when you need to submit your
imesheets and when paycheques will be issued. If you have any
Questions, please to your supervisor
IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR PAY
. XXX AGENY the Ceridion Payrol Company System which also
produces 14…
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